Sunday, April 17, 2016

Paging De Niro and Hightower...Wakefield isn't really in it to help autistics

Much ado has been made recently regarding the film Vaxxed: From Cover up to Catastrophe and rightfully so.  There have been numerous criticisms of the film and fortunately, Liz Ditz at I Speak of Dreams has been keeping a running list.  I won't be adding to that list any time soon, my interest is of a different sort.  Recently, it was revealed that Andrew Wakefield gave an email exchange he had with Grace Hightower, Robert De Niro's wife, to Celia Farber, a rabid HIV-AIDS denialist who serves as Wakefield's lackey to release personal communications that Wakefield apparently wants publicised.  Ms. Farber published an email exchange on her blog between Wakefield and Hightower but pulled it about an hour later.  It has been cached here (Hat tip: Mrs Pointer).

There are some revealing statements from Andrew Wakefield that warrant discussing.  First is this:
From: Andy Wakefield [email address redacted]
Date: Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 2:55 PM
Subject: IMPORTANT
To: Grace DeNiro [email address redacted]

Did you share the confidential link to our movie with third parties? If so, who were these third parties?

From: Office Of Grace Hightower
Date: Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 4:45 PM
Subject: Re: IMPORTANT
To: Andy Wakefield

Bob shared it with Jane Rosenthal and she shared it with her sister Pam Rawlings [sic]. These are the two people I am aware of his sharing it with. I shared it with no one.
This was two days after Wakefield's film was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival. First, Jane Rosenthal is the co-founder, along with Robert DeNiro, of the Tribeca Film Festival and also co-chair.  She has an extensive and impressive portfolio of films she has produced, many featuring Robert De Niro.  Pam Rollins (not Rawlings) is Jane Rosenthal's sister and an associate professor at the University of Texas and an expert in communication and autism spectrum disorders.  Then:
On Mar 29, 2016, at 9:18 AM, Andy Wakefield wrote:
Grace, whatever may have happened – and I guess I will never know – in truth my heart goes out to you and Bob. Not only has your family’s life been blighted by autism, but you have experienced some of the relentless and ruthless pressure that has been my life for as long as I can remember.
In truth and healing
Andy

Andy Wakefield
Director
Autism Media Channel
Emphasis added.  Let that sink in.

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield essentially called Mr. De Niro's and Ms. Hightower's son a blight on their family.  Of course the devoted flock of Wakefield would argue that he only meant that autism was a blight but it's not.  Autism is part of who the person is for better or worse, just ask an autistic person.  This is the danger of embarking upon the "autism is a tragedy" train; parents no longer see their autistic child but rather one that has been "stolen by" autism" or has had "the soul taken away from them".  Bob Wright, founder of Autism Speaks testified at a 2007 congressional meeting about federal funding for autism.  Here is a chilling quote from him:
Our grandson, Christian, was diagnosed with autism in 2004.  Helpless, we watched him slip away into the cruel embrace of this disorder.  My wife, Suzanne, likens it to a kidnapping, as if someone had taken away the life Christian was meant to live. We all want nothing more than to have him back where he belongs, restored to his family--he's a little prisoner.
This is from the man who founded, what is perhaps, the largest autism charity in the country.  And from Bradley Whitford, the then-acting president of Autism Speaks (from the same meeting):
As my friend, John, has said many times, it's as if 1 in 150 American children was being kidnapped.  What would this Congress do if that was the case? What must it do to deal with these sad facts as they truly are?...

Portia has written a book about Dov called Strange Son.  Here's how she describes the kidnapping, ``It was his mind they came for.  They came to steal his mind. Before anyone gave it a name, even before I knew what it was, I knew it was in our house.  They were very, very dark things, and there was no way to get rid of them.  When I closed my eyes, I felt their shadows passing over me.  I didn't like to think about where they came from, or where they were going.  It was too frightening.  Dov was only a baby, and something was trying to steal him away.  I knew that that was what they did whenever I accidentally fell asleep.  Night after night, I sat beside his crib.  I knew he was slipping away from us, away from our world, and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening, and there was nothing anybody could do, they told me.  So, I did the only things I could--I guarded him.  Although I knew it would do no good, because I could not guard his mind.  Then, one day, it happened. He was gone.  ''It is even more than just a tragedy for these kids, many of whom, like Dov, we now know to be of extraordinary intelligence, but trapped in bodies which do not allow them to effectively communicate or interact with the rest of us.  It's also a tragedy for our families and for our country.

As if it wasn't obvious, all people mentioned subscribe to the vaccine-causation idea of autism.  Incidentally, De Niro and Hightower are supporters of Autism Speaks. They don't accept their child has been born that way and autism isn't something done to him by vaccines.  That is what is so vile about Andrew Wakefield's statement.  More on that later.  Ms. Hightower not only doesn't appear to be bothered by such a remark but feels sorry for Wakefield:
On Mar 30, 2016, at 3:42 PM, Office of Grace Hightower wrote:

Andy,
Will you give me a call. I have an idea.
I feel awful about what happened and how it happened. I found out that the film was pulled along with the rest of the world.
Grace
The exchange continues:
On Mar 31, 2016, at 5:06 PM, Andy Wakefield wrote:

I will. I am headed for LAX and will try from there.
Andy
Sent from my iPhone

On Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 9:39 AM, Office of Grace Hightower wrote:

Andy,
Just saw Ian Lipkin’s write up in NYT on March 30th you are entitled to a rebuttal. Also he was one of two doctors that I found out consulted TriBeCa. The other is Pam Rollins of Dallas, Jane Rosenthal’s sister. Don’t know of any others but, will let you know if I hear of any others. I spoke with Ian and found him to be quite pro industry and not at all really interested in autism.
Best,

Grace
"Not at all really interested in autism"?  Let's see, Dr. Lipkin is only the principle investigator for the Autism Birth Cohort Project.  What are Andrew Wakefield's credentials again?  The exchange concludes with this:
On Apr 1, 2016, at 11:30 AM, Andy Wakefield wrote:

In flight. It seems to me that Rosenthal’s breach of confidentiality is a dismissible offense. We were assured there would be no consequence to her breach and clearly there was – one that amounts to defamation. We arrive around 12.00 in NYC. I will call and perhaps we could grab a coffee over the weekend.
Andy
From: Business Office 1

Date: Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Subject: Re: Reflections
To: Andy Wakefield
Yes, I recalled. I am in Florida now will be in NYC afternoon of April 4th.
Are you still in town? Would like to see and chat.

Sent from my iPhone
On one hand Wakefield suggests to Ms. Hightower that Jane Rosenthal should be removed from chairing the Tribeca Film Festival for "breach of confidentiality" yet has absolutely no problem handing a confidential email exchange to Celia Farber to publish.  This isn't the first time he's done this.  Wakefield's sheer arrogance is astonishing.  It will be interesting to see what transpires after this.  But this is only a part of the problem.

What is so very disturbing about this exchange is Wakefield's contempt for autistics while at the same time claiming to champion them.  Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie but will, although all I need to know is in the trailer.  Wakefield and company portray autistics in the worst possible light while portraying the parents as victims.

I have to ask, did anyone get informed consent from the autistic children in the film?  Did they get a say in whether they would like to be portrayed as damaged blights to their families and society?  I think we all know the answer to that.  Sadly, that is the power of Wakefield, his hustle to make himself attractive to otherwise (in some cases) intelligent people.  He appeals to the parents greatest fears and vulnerabilities.  He perpetuates the notion that autistics are less than human and exploits them for his own gain.  This is a very prevalent theme amongst the vaccines-causes-autism crowd.

Wakefield's co-producer Polly Tommey (founder of Autism Media Channel which Wakefield is the director of but isn't listed) allowed her son Billy to be exploited in this film.  Polly Tommey's daughter Bella is also in it and has a blog.  Bella wrote a post in October 2014 which was a dehumanising exposé of her own brother thinly-veiled as a special plea for her own martyrdom.  I posted a comment on the blog but it was removed:

Raising autistic children is a challenge; having an autistic sibling is a challenge but one crucial detail that is left out of this for vaccine-causation parents is that their children have the right to privacy; they have the right to dignity; they have a right to be raised in an environment which does not make them believe they are damaged.  This is the slippery-slope that ensues when parents view autism as a tragedy, something external foisted upon their children who would have been perfect otherwise.  They become less-than-human.

Lesile Weghorn of The Scientific Parent recently wrote a compelling article about how autistics feel about themselves when referred to as "vaccine-damaged".  It is gut-wrenching that autistics have to grow up in a world where they are thought of as a tragedy, a burden and now, a blight on their families.  Did Robert DeNiro and Grace Hightower even bother to talk to some autistics, perhaps even their own son about how autistics are portrayed in the media?  Perhaps they would like to talk to real autism advocates, other parent/advocates of autistic children and autistics about how they feel and how damaging Wakefield's film is, not only on a public health basis but how cruelly he depicts autistics.

Andrew Wakefield is a professional parasite who slimed his way into the De Niro's hearts preying upon their vulnerability, desperation and celebrity.  I wonder though, even if Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower subscribe to the vaccine-causation idea, would they consent to have their son portrayed in the manner Wakefield exploited in his film?  Even more importantly, would their son consent to be portrayed in such a humiliating manner?  If they don't have a problem with their son being called a blight on their family would they mind their son's personal details on display for public consumption?  If they would have a problem with that then perhaps they should reconsider Andrew Wakefield as an ally and take a critical look at who he really is because he isn't an autism advocate or researcher or even film-maker as he so recently fancies himself. 

De Niro and Hightower have the ability and resources to make a real difference and a positive impact on issues surrounding autism.  Pimping a fraud of a documentary about an issue that has been settled is intellectually and socially lazy.  Giving a platform to an unethical, disgraceful excuse for a physician who has damaged public health and profoundly contributed to the negative perception of autistics is an affront to all autistics and their families.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TMI - too much information - join National Autistic Society's new campaign

A young child in purple shirt, surrounded by many people and sounds, holds their ears shut to block out the sensory input - white on pink letters spell "TOO MUCH INFORMATION"

The British National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a new campaign today, on 1 April, the start of Autism "Awareness" Month. Shockingly, there is very little awareness or acceptance of autistic children and adults in the UK:

28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public space because of behaviour associated with their autism, 79% of autistic people and 70% of parents felt socially isolated.
The NAS argues that if someone sees only a "naughty kid" when they see a child in sensory overload, they clearly don't have enough information yet. They ask everyone: put yourself on the map and support the NAS to get everyone to understand autism.

A purple outline of the UK and Northern Ireland with bright dots representing clusters of supporters, on the left in white letters on pink background "PUT YOURSELF ON THE MAP"

Visit their site and check out the NAS' material, including a movie illustrating the sensory overload for a young autistic boy. This morning, on the BBC, he explained he hoped:

"this [movie] would cause awareness and respect, because that's as important as anything"

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Springer Link Ethics Journal Editors Do Something Unethical

Addendum 22 February 2016:  The journal Science and Engineering Ethics changes the formatting of their online articles during the publication process.  While the initial format of the Kern et al. (2015) review listed full author affiliations as they appeared in my first post, Conflicts of Interest are Bad, Just Not Our Own, the author affiliation are obscured now as they are in other online articles in Science and Engineering Ethics.  The author affiliations are apparent in the .pdf version.  For that Springer Link and their journal editors of Science and Engineering Ethics have my sincere apology.  However, I still stand fully behind my first post regarding this review article and given the massive undeclared conflicts of interest all the authors have and the self-serving nature of their review, this review should be retracted.

Springer Link's editors of Science and Engineering Ethics have pulled a sleight-of-hand since my last post about this spectacularly bad "review article" about conflicts of interest and transparency by a dodgy group of authors who didn't declare their own profound conflicts of interest.  Rather than retract this egregious example of dishonesty and peer-review failure, the editors simply and quietly removed the authors' affiliations.  The affiliations appear in my previous post but have been disappeared without explanation from the article. The description of Science and Engineering Ethics appears thusly:
Science and Engineering Ethics is a multi-disciplinary journal that explores ethical issues of direct concern to scientists and engineers. Coverage encompasses professional education, standards and ethics in research and practice, extending to the effects of innovation on society at large.

Recent controversies and instances of misconduct in science have attracted considerable media attention. In addition, the power of new technologies developed through science and engineering - especially as portrayed by the media - have inspired growing popular concern. Science and Engineering Ethics offers a forum for the examination and discussion of ethical issues arising in the practice of scientific research and engineering, and in the practical application of that work.

Although the focus of this publication is science and engineering, contributions from a broad range of disciplines are included.
Yet here the very editors of an ethics journal engage in a violation of ethics and commit misconduct by deleting author affiliations and allowing a completely dishonest Conflict of Interest statement remain.   As per Retraction Watch, the relevant research integrity office at the authors' institution should be contacted first.  That poses some difficulty here since most of the authors are employed by the same incestuous network of businesses and "charities" run by themselves.  I do know for a fact that the editors of Science and Engineering Ethics were contacted directly and the action that they have chosen flies in the face of publication ethics.  In any event they are:

SJ Bird: sjbird@mit.edu

RE Spier: r.spier@surrey.ac.uk

Institutional research compliance contacts for those authors who do have them are:
 
Helene Lake-Bullock
Research Compliance Officer, University of Kentucky
hlbullo@uky.edu

http://www.research.uky.edu/ori/staff.htm#HLB
Re: Boyd Haley

Gary S. Margules
Vice President, Office of Research and Technology Transfer, Nova Southeastern University
margules@nova.edu
http://www.nova.edu/rtt/staff.html
Re: Richard Deth

Danielle Beck
IRB Chair, IRB Simpson University
irb@simpsonu.edu
http://simpsonu.edu/Pages/Academics/Research/IRB/index.htm
Re: Brian Hooker

Systematic Assessment of Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mercury Reveals Conflicts of Interest and the Need for Transparency in Autism Research is an egregious example of hypocrisy and should have been retracted but the editors doubled-down on publication misconduct by disappearing author affiliations which point to the plethora of conflicts of interest the authors have.  Shame on Springer Link.

My deep gratitude to capnkrunch who spotted this sleight-of-hand and brought it to my attention along with some contact information.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Conflicts of Interest are Bad, Just Not Our Own

The Geiers, Hooker and Company have a new "Review" out which is hilariously titled,

"Systematic Assessment of Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mercury Reveals Conflicts of Interest and the Need for Transparency in Autism Research"

Abstract

Historically, entities with a vested interest in a product that critics have suggested is harmful have consistently used research to back their claims that the product is safe. Prominent examples are: tobacco, lead, bisphenol A, and atrazine. Research literature indicates that about 80–90 % of studies with industry affiliation found no harm from the product, while only about 10–20 % of studies without industry affiliation found no harm. In parallel to other historical debates, recent studies examining a possible relationship between mercury (Hg) exposure and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show a similar dichotomy. Studies sponsored and supported by industry or entities with an apparent conflict of interest have most often shown no evidence of harm or no “consistent” evidence of harm, while studies without such affiliations report positive evidence of a Hg/autism association. The potentially causal relationship between Hg exposure and ASD differs from other toxic products since there is a broad coalition of entities for whom a conflict of interest arises. These include influential governmental public health entities, the pharmaceutical industry, and even the coal burning industry. This review includes a systematic literature search of original studies on the potential relationship between Hg and ASD from 1999 to date, finding that of the studies with public health and/or industry affiliation, 86 % reported no relationship between Hg and ASD. However, among studies without public health and/or industry affiliation, only 19 % find no relationship between Hg and ASD. The discrepancy in these results suggests a bias indicative of a conflict of interest.

Keywords

Research Conflict of interest Transparency Autism Mercury Toxicants



Authors and Affiliations
  • Janet K. Kern: Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., 14 Redgate Court, Silver Spring, MD 20905, USA
  •  David A. Geier: Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., 14 Redgate Court, Silver Spring,   MD 20905, USA
  •  Richard C. Deth: Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
  •  Lisa K. Sykes: CoMeD, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, USA
  •  Brian S. Hooker: Simpson University, Redding, CA, USA
  •  James M. Love: CoMeD, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, USA
  •  Geir Bjørklund: Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, Mo i Rana,   Norway
  •  Carmen G. Chaigneau: CoMeD, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, USA
  •  Boyd E. Haley: University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
  •  Mark R. Geier: Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., 14 Redgate Court, Silver Spring,    MD 20905, USA 

This study was supported by the non-profit 501(c)(3) Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc., and the non-profit 501(c)(3) CoMeD, Inc.

Conflict of interest

There are no competing financial interests. The authors have been involved in vaccine/biologic litigation.

Given who the authors are this review reads like a parody.  Let's take a look at their actual conflicts of interest and laugh at the sheer irony of them writing this.

The authors' COI statement of, “The authors have been involved in vaccine/biologic litigation.“ is both misleading and incomplete because it implies this litigation is in the past. Brian Hooker is currently a petitioner in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program on behalf of his son, Steven. Other authors, Geier, Haley and Kern are acting as expert witnesses for Dr. Hooker's case. James M. Love is providing some legal assistance. They all contend that the vaccine preservative thiomersal caused Steven Hooker's autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 
http://ia902504.us.archive.org/31/items/gov.uscourts.cofc.2340/gov.uscourts.cofc.2340.docket.html

Dr. Hooker also serves on the board of Focus for Health (https://www.focusforhealth.org/about-us/our-board/) (formerly Focus Autism) an anti-vaccine organization with the agenda to, “put an end to the needless harm of children by vaccination”.  One of their vision statements is "Investigate the relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurological dysfunction, such as tics, since CDC studies have confirmed a connection."  

The editorial staff of Translational Neurodegeneration has withdrawn Dr. Hooker's study: “Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination timing and autism among young african american boys: a reanalysis of CDC data” stating: “The Editor and Publisher regretfully retract the article [1] as there were undeclared competing interests on the part of the author which compromised the peer review process. Furthermore, post-publication peer review raised concerns about the validity of the methods and statistical analysis, therefore the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings. We apologise to all affected parties for the inconvenience caused.“  (Emphasis added)   http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/22

Dr. Mark Geier has a number of business interests which are all predicated upon the disproved hypothesis that the vaccine preservative thiomersal causes ASDs. The corporate headquarters of ASD Centers, LLC (http://www.autismtreatmentclinics.com/), CoMed (http://mercury-freedrugs.org/) and Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc. (http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/MD/Institute-Of-Chronic-Illnesses-Inc.html) are located at a home owned by Mark Geier. David Geier, Janet Kern, James M. Love, Carmen G. Chaigneau and Lisa Sykes all hold various positions in these businesses/charities.  Additionally, Janet Kern is on the Board of Directors of Geir Bjørklund's Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM) which also has a strong focus on a mercury causation for autism. 

Mark Geier, David Geier, Janet Kern and Lisa Sykes are all involved with an elaborate grift to pay themselves for their own studies with monies from their own non-profit businesses as evidenced from their funding declaration for this study and several other studies along with three years of tax returns, 2011, 2012 and 2013 so far.  David Geier is conveniently president of the appropriately-named MedCon which pays him handsomely.  The Geier incestuous network of grifters includes appointing themselves to their own Institutional Review Board (IRB) which is supposed to oversee research and ensure ethics compliance via independent reviewers.  The Geiers and their business partners established a veritable fox-guarding-the-hen-house operation for themselves.   Kathleen Seidel meticulously catalogued the Geiers' et al.'s flouting of IRB regulations along with plagiarism, dodgy science and more egregious examples of failure to disclose conflicts of interest.  Incidentally, Ms. Seidel had to file an FOIA request to obtain the Geiers' IRB declaration.  I guess the Geiers et al. feel as though transparency is just for everyone else.

Dr. Mark Geier has had his license to practise medicine either revoked or suspended in all states where he used to hold licenses. These actions were based upon the serious charges initially investigated by the State of Maryland's Board of Physicians (https://www.mbp.state.md.us/bpqapp/Orders/D2425004.271.PDF): “The Board determined that the physician’s conduct constituted a substantial likelihood of a risk of serious harm to the public health, safety and welfare based on the physician’s experimental treatment of autistic children with Lupron.” Dr. Geier's son David Geier was charged with practising medicine without a license and fined $10,000 (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-05/news/ct-met-autism-doctor-20121106_1_autism-doctor-david-geier-mark-geier). 

Dr. Richard Deth teaches pharmacology at Northeastern University. He was offered by the plaintiffs as an expert in the areas of physiology, neuropharmacology and the effects of thimerosal in the human brain. Dr. Deth is clearly qualified to testify as an expert witness in the areas of physiology and neuropharmacology. However, there is no recognized field of science in the third proposed area of expertise, namely "the effects of thimerosal in the human brain."

Dr. Deth offered the opinion that exposure to mercury for thimerosal-containing vaccines causes autism, based on a molecular theory that he developed through his in vitro studies. Questions about the effect mercury has in the human brain necessarily come within the ambit of the field of toxicology. These questions, including any opinions about the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and the excretion of thimerosal or mercury all involve issues of toxicology.

Further, Dr. Deth is neither an epidemiologist, a neurologist nor a geneticist. That — vel non — would not operate to preclude his testimony. However, he has never taken any courses in epidemiology, has published no papers in any epidemiological journal, and is not a member of any epidemiological societies. He relies on an epidemiology paper published by Dr. Geier as support for his opinions. (20) Further, he relies on several papers about the neurology of autism. He is not a medical doctor and is not an expert in the field of pediatric neurology. Lastly, although he relies on various studies in the field of genetics, he does not have a degree in genetics nor is he a member of any professional genetics organizations or societies. Accordingly, in light of his expressed reliance on Dr. Geier's studies (that the Court has addressed at pp. 24-38 of this Opinion), this Court finds that he lacks a sufficient factual basis to support his testimony.
Boyd Haley is President and CEO of CTI Science (the website is non-existent now) and he licensed OSR#1 developed for chelating industrial mining sludge.  He re-branded OSR#1 as a "supplement" for chelating autistic children which made millions of dollars before the FDA sent him a warning letter to cease marketing of OSR#1 as a dietary supplement.  Boyd Haley continued to sell OSR#1 for a period of time after that enjoying a ridiculous mark up on it. He is currently attempting to resurrect OSR#1 with clinical trials operating under the business name EmeraMed and renaming OSR#1, Irminix. He has a vested financial interest in flogging the failed mercury-causation of autism.  He is also a member of Geir Bjørklund's fancifully-named Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

Geir Bjørklund and Jim Love appear to be just another dodgy scientist and sleazy lawyer respectively getting in on the mercury grift that has successfully scared parents into buying shonky products to treat "heavy metal" toxicity in their autistic children and legal services for "mercury injuries".

To say that the authors' declared conflicts of interest is lacking is an understatement.  Every single one has a financial and personal stake in perpetuating the myth that thiomersal causes autism and/or mercury is responsible for mythical diseases.  And not one of these authors declared their actual conflicts of interest while writing about others' conflicts of interest.  Allowing a "review" such as this, by these authors to be published in an ethics journal is beyond the pale and even worse to let it remain in the public domain.

ETA 29.10.15: Thanks to comments by capnkrunch and Chris Preston who provided me with more accurate information on the study authors, I have made corrections within the body of the text.  I really appreciate the comments that keep this blog as accurate as possible.

ETA 1.11.15: Updated to include more information supplied to me by the excellent Kathleen Seidel and Matt Carey.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Atlanta Anti-Vaxx Rally Shifted Something...Just Not a Paradigm.


Please join us as we generate a new paradigm

I've slogged through the video of the entire rally supplied to me by an attendee, read the "educational" materials offered and perused photos of this event and it's about as paradigm-generating as the seasonal migration of Canada Geese.  I've transcribed many quotes and will mostly let them speak for themselves but nothing replaces listening to the entire talks by the few speakers I have selected.  But first, some literature that appeared at the great "new paradigm-generating" rally:





First up is Toni Bark, a "holistic" physician in an Illinois private practice offering a veritable cornucopia of bogus tests and "alternative" products.  Her entire speech is riddled with inflammatory rhetoric and outright fabrications but this gem at the end was particularly special (18:50):
"Don't kid yourself, if you don't take care of your body then you are contributing.  Every time you buy your prescriptions, you need a procedure, you need these meds to stay alive, you're contributing.  You have to vote with your money.  That means respecting your body, we need a health revolution and we need to tell 'Big Food' and 'Big Pharma' to eff off."
Huh, so all those people with insulin-dependent diabetes, people with raging bacterial infections and people with cancer don't respect their bodies are all just contributing to the problem when they buy their meds.  I guess Dr. Bark's dispensary must be filled with homeopathic nostrums and Bach's Flower Essences.  What a smug self-righteous cow.

Michelle Ford, the event organiser and founder of yet another anti-vaxx "advocacy movement" VIAL (and likes to use the royal "we") perhaps sensed the paltry crowd's despondence over being a paltry crowd at such a "paradigm-shifting" event and offered up this awesome porky (1:31.15):
"I hear there's a big thing going on on Interstate 20 so we've got a few buses from Alabama that are stuck.  So anyway we're just going to have to be with them in spirit and generate that they can get here because man they moved mountains to be able to get themselves out here on those buses...12 buses.  That's right."
I don't know how "a few" is "twelve" but anti-vaxxers are rather innumerate and prone to exaggeration but I guess it must make sense to them. The U.S. South isn't exactly a hotbed of anti-vaxx activity and if this rally couldn't pull a dozen local buses into a large metropolitan city then how can they expect us to believe they got 12 busloads of anti-vaxxers from Ala-freakin-bama.  I guess this "big thing on I-20" is just part of the conspiracy.

I think my favourite speaker was Tony Muhammed, completely devoid of reality but an entertaining and charismatic speaker.  At the 7:20 mark of his talk he states:

"The honourable Elijah Muhammed in the 30's and 40's warned the members of the Nation of Islam that there are wicked people in high places who are coming up with experimental chemicals that could hurt the human family of the planet.  And we were always warned NOT to take certain vaccines.  And as a result, we have not suffered from the autism, from the measles, from the many viruses and sicknesses that's happening in our community."
On one hand Mr. Muhammed is saying that his people had the forethought to avoid vaccines and didn't "suffer from the autism", yet managed to avoid measles and presumably other vaccine-preventable diseases but on the other they are happening in his community.  I don't speak batshit crazy so perhaps someone would like to help out here.  At 8:03 he relays his boss' stunning ability to identify the exact contemporary event which was foretold millennia ago:
"The honourable Louis Farrakhan also said, 'this is prophesy, I need you to listen.' He said, 'When you go into the Book of Exodus there was a Pharaoh who saw in the Book of Exodus that the slaves was [sic] getting restless.  And the Pharaoh knew that it was time for a deliverer to bring them out from his control.  And Pharaoh made this statement, 'Come and let us deal wisely with them.' Then he said, 'Let's kill the male and spare the female.' Then Minister Farrakhan went to the New Testament. He said, 'Under Herod, Herod looked at the stars and he knew that it was time for a deliverer to come and lead the people to a new kingdom.  And Herod said, 'Let's kill all babies two and under.'  So it is no surprise that the vaccine makers have now increased the vaccine and are trying to get it to our boys before they are three years old. It's in prophesy."
Yup, the enslavement and slaughter of the Israelites is just like the completely concocted idea that two year-old, Black boys are preferentially given "the autism" from vaccines. Furthermore, it takes an ego of indescribable proportions draw this comparison.  I'm no Biblical scholar but how did the Pharaoh of the Exodus get a hold of the Book of Exodus which hadn't been written yet? 
"He then went to the book of Revelations as I close.  He said, 'In Revelations, there is a woman in Revelations who is pregnant with a child and then there's a dragon standing in front of the woman but the dragon wanted to devour the child before it was born.'  Now the big pharmaceutical companies, they have become the dragon of this whole planet and all of their products once you've injected them into you body or take it through your mouth it drags your mind down and you lose control."
Religion as an art form can mean anything you want it to mean and Tony Muhammed exploits that to it's fullest.  He then goes on to mock U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (19:06):
"And when I went to Congress, Elijah Cummings, I gotta tell you the truth.  Elijah Cummings is over the Oversight Committee and both Bobby Kennedy and myself went to this Negro and this Negro...excuse me I'm getting a little touched...I have him the information from the honourable Minister Louis Farrakhan and said, 'Brother Elijah we need you to look into this.' He said, 'Brother I'll look into that, we just had him [William Thompson] up here ten years ago.' And I said, 'Yeah Dr. Thompson lied to you.' He said, 'Well I'm going to look into this.' I said, 'If you look into this Brother we will stand behind you, the whole Nation will stand with you.'

Two days later, I did not know that in two days he learned how to moonwalk.  He called me back with a crackling sound in his voice.  He said, 'Brother Tony look I...I...I just want you to know I'm pro-vaccine.' I said, 'I don't care about you being pro-vaccine I asked you to call Dr. Thompson and subpoena him.'  'I don't know if I can do that...I just think you hooked up with some crazy people I think your information is wrong.' I said, 'Brother are you punking out?'  'I'm not a punk Brother I'm just telling you [unintelligible] I ain't got time to talk.' I said, 'That's okay, Minister Farrakhan likes bad news fast.'  And he hung up.  Guess who I called?  Minister Farrakhan.  He said, 'That's all right Brother.  I told you Pharaoh has some magicians.' He said, 'Not only have our Black politicians been bought but over 95% of our White politicians have been bought.'"
I can't be sure but calling a politician "Negro" and "punk" and "bought-off" may not be the kind of diplomacy that will get one any future consideration.  It's too bad that Tony Muhammed and Robert Kennedy didn't consider their involvement with crazy people and that their information is in fact wrong and not going to gain any traction with politicos, other than perhaps Rep. Bill Posey.

The last speaker, presented as "our fearless leader" was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  His entire speech was filled with demonstrably false statements so I just picked some choice bits beginning at 3:45:


"The director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), who's the guy who's supposed to make sure we have honest science in all the agencies, he said the problems with the CDC and FDA were so intractable, that the science was so corrupt, that it could not be corrected.  And so he resigned his job.  So it's not just Robert Kennedy who says there's a problem at the CDC."
Yes it kind of is actually.  The Director of the ORI did resign but not even mention the CDC nor FDA.  Then at 5:08:
"So when I was a little boy I had to take three vaccines, my children had to take 69 vaccines.  Now why did that change?  It all changed in one year, 1989."
Children today don't even get 69 vaccines and his were born in 1984, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2001The schedules have also changed such that if his children were vaccinated according to schedule they would have received some different vaccines but no where near 69 even into adolescence.  RFK, Jr. is a pandering fool and he continues to bring it on:
"It all changed in 1989...that all of these diseases that we never heard of when I was a boy, all of a sudden they started.  And we have today the sickest generation of children in the history of the world.  [Applause] All of these diseases, ADD, ADHD, we didn't know about these things when I was a kid."
Who knew that ADHD (ADD is really a sloppy use of ADHD) is a disease.  It has always struck me odd that proudly announcing one's ignorance of something and using it as proof that it is something entirely new when you've finally heard of it is not something you should be proudly announcing.  RFK, Jr. goes on to claim that there is a higher level of mercury in vaccines than coal.  Of course he also doesn't bother to make a distinction between the different species of mercury.  He then makes a rather odd announcement:
"And by the way my child was destroyed by them, by this mercury." 
WTF is that supposed to mean?  Did he just say that he has a "vaccine-injured" child?  All these years he's been caterwauling about thiomerosal and only just now he decides to announce this?  I'm sure his child would be thrilled to know his father thinks he was destroyed too.  RFK Jr. displays the typical mindset of the anti-vaxxer not only with what he just said but this:
"Anecdotes ultimately become science"
All these years that scientists have been conducting research to answer questions and all we really had to do was collect anecdotes.  I feel so silly wasting years and money on my education.  What would an anti-vaxx rally be without invoking a plot involving the Eeeveeel Dr. Offit (16:58):
"So let me give you an example, in 1989 Paul Offit was like the Lex Luthor of vaccines and he sits in a chair at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that is paid for by Merck, a 1.5 million dollar grant by Merck.  So he is already a toady of Merck's and he was allowed to sit on the committee that approved the rotavirus vaccine.  He owned the patent to the rotavirus vaccine.  He didn't recuse himself.  He voted to add that to the schedule.  Once it got on that schedule it was worth billions of dollars and he sold his patent for $182 million.  Do this was a little bit of a scandal and the Inspector General of HHS went to investigate it and what they found was this is horrible, this is catastrophic, it shouldn't be happening but guess what?  It's completely legal under CDC's rules."
Of course it's legal and a non-issue because non of this happened the way RFK, Jr. described.  Dr. Gorski explains how the Hilleman Chair works and it's not even CHOP's, it's the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine's.  The chair didn't even exist when Dr. Offit voted to put a competitor rotavirus vaccine, Rotashield on the ACIP schedule, not his own RotaTeq as the dunderhead RFK, Jr. stated.  Nor was this ever a scandal.  Dr. Offit didn't own the RotaTeq patent, CHOP did, sold it and Dr. Offit's share, along with two other inventors amounted to about $6 million.  But RFK, Jr. isn't going to let pesky facts get in the way of a perfectly good slanderous rant.  He closes with an inept "challenge" to Dr. Frank DeStefano of the CDC (29:50):
“Dr. Frank DeStefano, who runs the Vaccine Division [at the CDC] and orchestrated this corruption, Dr. DeStefano is a criminal and he committed scientific research fraud and he is guilty of ijuring all these people. I'm saying that and I am using his name. If what I'm saying is untrue it is an act of slander and I want him to sue me. If he didn't do I, he ought to sue me. He ought to file a suit this afternoon and enjoin me from ever saying that again. If someone said that about me I would sue them immediately. I'm saying to you Frank DeStefano, if you didn't poison these children, you need to sue me right now and shut me up because what I'm saying to you is damaging to your career. Let's see what he does on Monday”
Well it's now Tuesday and still no one gives a toss about RFK, Jr.'s petulant little rant.  No one sums it up better than Herr Doktor Bimler though:
"It would require the purportedly defamed individuals to show that Kennedy had enough credibility and standing in the community for the stupid spilling out from his mouth to injure their reputations."
Brian Hooker was scheduled to speak but didn't show up and no one mentioned him even though he was an architect of the "CDC Whistleblower" nonsense and of course only author of his incompetent/fraudulent "re-analysis" of DeStefano et al. (2004) .  It struck me as odd that given his role, no credit was given to him nor any utterance of remorse that he couldn't make it there.

This was the first time I watched back to back talks by anti-vaxxers and it was educational.  They all present competing ideas of autism-causation via vaccines be it thiomersal, toxins, MMR, too-many-too-soon or even any.  But no one questions them nor do they question each other.  They just keep talking past one another and all nod in agreement (and they call us sheeple).  But when you're unencumbered by facts, your own reality is just a hand-wave away.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

When Pro-Vaccine Goes Wrong

Every blogger gets emails to flog someone's materials and are either ignored or dealt with more creatively.  Mostly we ignore them but yesterday Just the Vax received a solicitous email asking us to promote a "new lifestyle movement" that couldn't be ignored:

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


PARENTS FOR VACCINATIONS LAUNCHES LIFESTYLE MOVEMENT
Brand Wristband Promotes Pro-Vaccination Choice

August 24, 2015, Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles based mom, Trisha Gum, today has launched a new website to promote vaccinations for children called Parents for Vaccinations.  The website was created to generate a pro-vaccination lifestyle and make it easy for that lifestyle choice to be instantly recognizable.

Years ago parents could depend on herd immunity to protect young children and people of all ages who suffer from health conditions leading to immunodeficiency.  With the increasing number of parents who choose to delay vaccinating their children, or skip vaccination altogether, that general reliability is no longer the case. 
“As a mom of two small children, I knew all the typical safety questions parents ask whenever their kids meet up for a play-date or visit an unfamiliar home: Is there a pool, and is it fenced or covered? Do you smoke? Do you have a dog?” states Gum. “Recently it dawned on me there was a new safety question to ask; and with this wristband, the question is easily answered.”

Approaching this important vaccination question is made easier, in fact, even eliminated with the Parents for Vaccinations lifestyle wristband.  The bright orange silicone wristband on children’s wrists alerts everyone that the child’s parents believe in vaccinations.  The wristbands are available in six sizes from toddler – adult and are $3.95 with family-pack discounts available. 

Like herd immunity, the vaccination process is a numbers game. The goal of Parents for Vaccinations is to band together and change the conversation across the country. The brand is launching the hashtag #raiseyourwrist to be used on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to create a sense of community for the movement.

A portion of the Parents for Vaccinations wristband proceeds will benefit nonprofit organizations that provide education and outreach for vaccinations nationwide.  For more information on Parents for Vaccinations, please visit www.parentsforvaccinations.com.


About Parents for Vaccinations
Parents for Vaccinations believes that parents have a responsibility to make sure they are prepared for whatever risks their kids may encounter. With several credible news reports regarding outbreaks of long-dormant childhood diseases, Parents for Vaccination families have chosen to trust their pediatrician and make what they believe is the only responsible choice. The brand’s bright orange silicone wristband promotes this choice via a simple, visual announcement. Parents for Vaccinations love vaccinations. They love that those vaccinations protect their kids and make their family, their neighborhood, and their hometown a little safer. To join the movement and share this message, please visit www.parentsforvaccinations.com and socially via @parentsforvaccinations on Facebook and Instagram, and @ParentsForVax on Twitter. 


Media Contact
White Handed PR
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At best, this is not a well-thought-out campaign and at worst, carpet-bagging on the increased awareness of the anti-vaccine movement.  First, this "campaign" promotes identifying the nice, little vaccinated children to play with each other with a wristband to the exclusion of everyone else very much like...
Secondly, who's to say that an unvaccinated family can't buy these wristbands to make a point in order to let their unvaccinated children be able to play with the "identifiable" vaccinated children?  It's pitting children against children and punishing children for their parents' decisions while claiming the high ground and celebrating sanctimonious self-righteousness.  It's just plain wrong and won't do anything to promote increased vaccination uptake.  On the contrary, it will turn people off, even those of us who promote vaccination and work (on our own time and own dime) countless hours to counter anti-vaccine propaganda.

Lastly, at the time of this writing Parents for Vaccinations did not list the "non-profit organizations" they intend to donate the proceeds for the sale of the wristbands to nor the percentage of each sale that would be donated (it's certainly something I consider before making a purchase).  They also haven't declared (and provided proof) that these wristbands were manufactured in a facility that doesn't use child and/or forced labour.

While perhaps well-intentioned, this campaign is seriously misguided.  I hope that Ms. Gum will re-direct this campaign to make this a conversation between parents and not use children as vehicles to distinguish the "good" parents from the "bad" parents.  Much of what perturbs me about this campaign is that it feeds into the "Mompetition" style of parenting that we can do without.  Parenting isn't an Olympic competition.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kidnapping...Now a Vaccine Adverse Event.

A bizarre story of kidnapping has emerged in California which has been (tastelessly) dubbed, the "Gone Girl" kidnapping.  It was initially believed by the Vallejo Police that kidnap victim, Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn perpetrated a hoax.  That was not the case as Matthew Muller, a former Marine and disbarred attorney was arrested for the kidnapping of Ms. Huskins.
The man charged in a California kidnapping that police initially dismissed as a hoax said he acted alone, and that mental illness and a side effect from a vaccine contributed to his behavior, the FBI said in a court filing.

Matthew Muller made the comments to a television news reporter during a jailhouse interview in July, FBI Special Agent Wesley Drone said in an affidavit in support of a search warrant. The reporter was not allowed to record the interview and had been asked by Muller not to reveal his comments about acting alone and the vaccine. She did report that Muller said he felt bad for the kidnapping victim and thought the victim deserved an apology.
This sounds like just the type of story that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. can throw his weight behind and use on his "U.S. tour" as an example of how dangerous vaccines are.